When you hear the phrase “femme fatale”, you might picture a bombshell vixen-like character and not Angela Martin from The Office. However, the definition of a femme fatale has become a bit more broad in recent times. It doesn’t exactly only encompass women in figure-hugging black dresses with red lipstick anymore. However, when viewing The Office for the first time, viewers might be more inclined to place Angela’s character into the “crazy cat lady” trope. And it’s understandable. She pretty much fits the trope to a T.
Be that as it may, Angela’s character is slowly revealed over the series nine-season run to be a lot more layered and complex than just a cat lady. Starting in season 2, Angela becomes secretly involved with Dwight Schrute, another Dunder Mifflin employee. It’s in their on-again, off-again relationship where we see Angela’s femme fatale tendencies. Whereas Dwight perhaps wouldn’t mind if their coworkers knew, it’s definitely evident that Angela does not feel that way.
After secretly dating for roughly a year, the season 3 episode, “Traveling Salesman” sees Dwight’s relationship with Angela costing Dwight his job. At the beginning of the episode, Kevin tells Angela that the corporate office needed very important accounting paperwork, but they hadn’t received it yet. Dwight arrives at the office late, and he tells Angela that she’s off the hook, leaving the viewers to piece together the fact that Dwight drove all the way to the corporate office in New York to save her from getting in trouble. This backfires though, when Dwight is questioned by Michael as to his whereabouts that morning. Dwight doesn’t want to get in trouble with Michael, whom he idolizes, but he doesn’t feel like he can tell the truth and reveal his relationship with Angela.
In a conversation caught by the documentary crew, Dwight tries to reassure Angela that it’s going to be okay. When Angela asks, “How is it going to be okay, Dwight? Everyone will know our business.”, Dwight replies, “That’s not the worst thing in the world. I’ll just stand up in front of the office and reveal our true love. It won’t be that bad.” Deep down, Dwight doesn’t want to hide his relationship with Angela. Instead, he’s held to that because it’s what Angela wants.
Subsequently, Dwight chooses to keep their relationship a secret and resigns at the end of the day. When Angela overhears Andy’s talking head stating his glee for Dwight’s resignation, she gives him honestly one of the scariest looks on tv. It’s clear she wants to exact some kind of revenge against him. Which leads me to the season 4 and 5 storyline of their engagement and eventual breakup.
This next part is more conjecture, but I believe that it’s the end of this episode where Angela hatches her diabolical plan (very Dwight-esque) against Andy. In season 4, Angela has broken up with Dwight for killing her cat, started to date Andy Bernard as a form of revenge against Dwight for said cat murder, and by the end of it, gets engaged to Andy. I’m asserting that Angela originally planned to date Andy publicly as a way to lure him into a relationship and then break him down slowly. However, after Dwight shoves Sprinkles into a freezer, Angela shifts her diabolical plan to include Dwight. And it seems to work. In season 4, when the online store launches, Dwight is determined to beat the computer in paper sales. Not only to achieve superiority as a paper salesman but also to impress Angela. Andy makes a declaration to the office that “Dwight Schrute has crushed his electronic nemesis, if you will, by a whopping fifty-two reams!”, and Dwight asks him to repeat that when he sees Angela walk by. Angela, harnessing her femme fatale power here, says simply, “I didn’t ask you to do it for me.” Dwight is defeated for the remainder of the episode because he spent so much time and energy impressing Angela and living up to what he thought were her standards.
When that doesn’t work, and Andy and Angela are engaged, Dwight continues to find ways to be with Angela. In the season 5 episode, “The Surplus”, Andy suggests (thanks to Angela’s discrete hints) using Dwight’s beet farm as a wedding venue. While taking a tour of the farm and barn, it ends with Angela unknowingly participating in a real wedding ceremony wherein she gets married to Dwight. She begins to confess to Dwight that she made a mistake getting engaged to Andy when Dwight confesses that he actually tricked her into marrying him. Here, the femme fatale’s plan is derailed slightly, and Angela does something that most femme fatales do: the kiss of distraction. Or at least her version of that.
She walks right up to Andy at his desk and plants a big kiss on him in front of everyone. Not only is this out of character for Angela’s conservative character, it also happens right in front of Dwight. Two seasons prior, he wanted to make their relationship public, but she refused. Now, she’s smooching Andy without any care of what others may be thinking. It’s an emotional, double suckerpunch to Dwight.
But that heartbreak doesn’t last long as they still hook up in secret. Until the season 5 episode, “The Duel” where Michael tells Andy what has been going on behind his back. Andy challenges Dwight to a duel in the parking lot for Angela’s hand. Instead of being repulsed, Angela is clearly thrilled at the idea and proclaims that she will “respect the results of the duel”. Her master plan of exacting revenge on Andy for his season 3 actions against Dwight doesn’t exactly go according to plan. Dwight finds out that she had, in fact, slept with Andy as well, and their duel comes to an uneventful end. Angela’s romantic plans with Dwight and Andy peter out.
While this is one storyline that shows a femme fatale side to Angela, she reveals that it’s not the first time it’s happened. A handful of episodes later, during a singles-only Valentine’s Day party at the office, Angela reveals another part of her sordid love life. When talking about their worst breakups, she says that her worst breakup was with two men who had a duel over her. Both the viewers and her co-workers assume she’s talking about Andy and Dwight. However, she replies, “No, this was year ago when I was living in Ohio. John Mark and John David.” When it’s brought to her attention that she actually had two sets of men fighting over her, she’s not ashamed of her infidelity. Her only response includes a smile and “I guess I have”.
Viewers may initially see Angela as a religious, buttoned-up, unassuming woman in the background of the office. But as we’ve seen throughout the series many times, Angela shouldn’t be underestimated. She’s incredibly aware of her effect on the men around her, particularly Dwight, as we see in season 7. In several episodes, she dresses a certain way either to achieve a man’s attention or a monetary prize. Angela herself tries to reason with the documentary crew in a talking head during season 7’s Halloween episode, wherein Angela changes from a predictable cat costume to a sexy nurse outfit, stating “ I don’t like your tone! Look, they were sold out of all the other costumes, okay? I think we all live in the real world, here. Let’s not pretend to be unaware of what sells in this office”. She’s willing to use her appearance in order to gain a prize. In this case, a coupon book worth over (Pam’s voice) $15,000 IN SAVINGS.
Angela Martin is a smart, scheming character who, while engaging in femme fatale behavior, is still human. She isn’t fearless (as evidenced by her hesitancy in revealing her relationship with Dwight to the rest of the office in season 3), but she’s brave enough to allow herself to eventually be in a relationship without a diabolical plan. *Well, she marries Dwight, so I’d like to think there’s at least one diabolical plan.